Are micro-credentials a "catch-all" for education?


Micro-credentials are supporting the diversification of the workforce but still face many challenges.

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In its latest edition, the Edu Trends report describes micro-credentials as “digital certificates used to demonstrate that an individual masters a specific skill or field knowledge […] Once the particular requirements for the micro-credential are met, the user receives a digital certificate as proof of having completed the course.”

Usually, micro-credentials tend to be more narrowly focused than courses, which can be very beneficial to people who are interested in lifelong learning or that are looking to learn a specific career-focused skill.

According to Credential Engine, a nonprofit that developed a national registry of alternative credentials, there are nearly 750,000 micro-credentials in the U.S. Moreover, they are offered by all types of organizations, from IBM, Google (Grow with Google), Apple (App Development with Swift curriculum), and Amazon (AWS Educate), to the National Wood Flooring Association, that are being distributed by different post-secondary institutions. Furthermore, the most popular are in the technological field, as well as the ones focused on power skills like resilience.

For students and professionals, micro-credentials are an opportunity to show their skills when they try to get a job, mainly because it helps them demonstrate their knowledge in a specific skill or competence.

On the other hand, one of the challenges in the field of micro-credentials involves listing and specifying those soft skills (or power skills) acquired in these courses. That is why universities, institutions, and organizations that deliver this type of credentials should examine the kind of "soft" knowledge and skills that employers require, to take it into account when creating and issuing this type of credentials.

Another major challenge facing micro-credentials is the lack of quality control. Given that the field is expanding rapidly, the problem to be overcome will be to ensure that all credentials have a practical value and seal of quality.

Even so, micro-credentials are an excellent way to continue learning or to focus on a specific topic. They also help to diversify the workforce by offering alternative methods of training and continuous learning, especially at a time when more and more companies do not require a university degree to hire staff.

If you want to know more about this topic and other types of alternative credentials, download the latest Edu Trends report on this trend.